By Leo C.
Twelve players. Two goals. One puck. A story known all too well by Canadians. But of course, there is a twist. The players aren’t on ice; in fact, they’re not even on a solid surface. Geared up with snorkels and goggles, the players struggle to gain possession of the constantly sinking puck. This is the game of underwater hockey, or as it is known in the U.K, Octopus, and it is currently one of the fastest-growing sports in Canada.
Underwater hockey, despite sharing similar names, is an almost entirely different sport than ice hockey. As mentioned above,
there are 12 players, 6 a side, with 3 substitutes each. The objective is simple: Get the puck into the other team’s goal, a 3.36-meter long piece of aluminum lying on the pool floor, and attempt to have more goals at the end of the half an hour which
makes up a underwater hockey game. Other basic equipment includes; a snorkel, goggles, a puck, a unique stick designed for water hockey, and fins. In addition, due to the fact the game is underwater, the sport is non-contact in order to make sure players can safely surface for air whenever needed. The fact that it is underwater also gives the game a
whole new dimension. Due to the fact that the players only have limited time before they must surface, the game is based on short bursts and dives towards the puck. Breakaways are extremely common, as shooting the puck often proves too slow.
Underwater hockey originates from England, where the British navy invented it in order to keep divers occupied and as a training exercise. Currently, underwater hockey is a worldwide sport, with professional clubs and national teams, which compete for a world cup, which is held every 2 years, the first of which was actually held in Canada, in the city of Vancouver.
And although it is not well known, underwater hockey is here in Calgary as well. In fact, a world cup for underwater hockey was held in Calgary at the local Talisman centre.
The Calgary Underwater Hockey Club, or the CUHC represents underwater hockey in Calgary, with teams for all ages.
A season of underwater hockey usually costs 175- 200 dollars, which although may sound large at first is still less than, say, a season of soccer. Not only is it relatively cheap, it is a great to stay in shape due to the constant swimming and a fun way to hone your diving and snorkeling skills. So although it may never have the same level of entertainment as of hockey or the athleticism of basketball, it definitely is something new and exciting to try out in this often described as “boring” city we live in.